Who We Are
In 1998 Brighton and Hove LGBT Switchboard approached Mind in Brighton and Hove to start discussions about how to highlight the mental health needs of Brighton's LGB&T communities. A number of public meetings were held, involving local community groups, activists, service providers and service commissioners.
Comic Relief provided funding to start up an Advocacy, Group Work and Training project, run by Mind in Brighton and Hove. This became MindOut.
In 2011 MindOut branched out and became an independent charity on its own.
MindOut is staffed by out LGBTQ workers and volunteers. The staff and volunteer team is:
Rita Hirani – CEO
Rita (she/her) is a social entrepreneur and trainer, with 35+ years of experience in the voluntary sector. She has pioneered innovative projects for marginalised communities in the field of domestic violence and abuse, community services, and helplines.
Tommy Maher - Training Assistant
Tommy (he/they) is MindOut’s Training Assistant, he also uses the name Molly here and there. With a 6+ year career in the charity sector, including a Campaigns role with Stonewall and training position with Gendered Intelligence, Tommy’s expertise lies in campaigns, communications and training delivery.
He has lots of experience with freelance LGBTQ+ awareness training and arts workshops, with a mental health and self-esteem focus. Tommy has also supported LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people to tell their life stories with the Proud Trust and Pankhurst Centre, torn up the script on gender and class with young people through Manchester’s Reclaim, and created defiant self-portraits with LGBTQ+ communities at the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre.
Tommy has been praised for approaching facilitation and community organizing with empathy, creativity and passion. Their neuroqueering of life has inspired many adventures outside of the normative, and lead them to live aboard a semi-traditional 50ft narrowboat!
Christopher Roskelly - Administrator
Christopher (he/him) joined the MindOut team as Administrator in October 2020.
He has previously worked as an NHS administrator and communications specialist, and as Treasurer for Trans* Pride Brighton and Hove. He has a special interest in websites and databases, and looks after day to day admin work in the office.
He is interested in how access to information can support health and wellbeing, and passionate about empowering LGBTQ people.
Karen Dresback - Community Mental Health Advocate
Karen (she/her) began volunteering for MindOut at Brighton Pride in 2013. Since then she has developed a wide base of skills in working with LGBTQ people affected by mental health, stigma, and discrimination. Prior to joining MindOut she previously worked in customer service, live music promotion, and administrative roles.
Through the MindOut volunteering training programme she has taken the opportunity to develop flexible skills as a Group Worker, Online Support Worker and Peer Mentor, before taking on paid roles in admin, group work, service delivery and volunteer management, casework, and advocacy.
Karen joined the permanent staff team at MindOut in 2018 when she became the Housing and Over-50s Advocate. Currently she works on Community Mental Health and Social Care advocacy.
Robin Conkerton-Darby - Trans Advocacy Worker
Robin (they/them) joined MindOut in August 2021 as Housing Advocate. They value working as a member of the community to provide services by and for LGBTQ+ people, something which brought them to MindOut in particular.
They previously worked as an advocate in hospitals and residential settings, wanting to turn their experiences of trying to access mental health care as a queer person into something that empowers others.
They have a BA in Philosophy and focused in particular on LGBTQ+ issues in ethics, human rights and justice.
Dawn Hayes - Wellbeing Service Manager
Dawn (she/her) joined the MindOut Advocacy team in December 2017, specialising in housing related advocacy and and now manages the Wellbeing services.
Dawn’s career spans over 28 years and includes tenancy management and support, customer services, repairs and improvement, and service user participation/involvement to improve services. Dawn’s main passion and focus now is listening to the ‘voice of experience’, empowerment and inclusion.
‘I am delighted to be part of the MindOut team and use my knowledge and experience in a positive way’.
Trudi Pearce - Project Worker
Trudi (she/her) joined the Peer Support team in December 2021 as a Mental Health project worker for MindOut’s Wellbeing service. She is now a Senior Practitioner (Wellbeing). Previously, she worked as a volunteer providing befriending and mentoring for MindOut’s service users and continues to work as a caregiver for the elderly.
Trudi’s earlier career journey started with a BA (Hons) in Travel and Tourism and later a MSc in Sustainable Tourism Management. This is where her passion to lobby, engage and mentor travel organisations to adopt best practice and an inclusive approach was prevalent.
In 2020 Trudi decided to broaden and build on her coaching qualifications and study as a counsellor to CPCAB level 3 and will continue to level 4 in January 2022.
Beyond MindOut, Trudi is a cat lover, and enjoys sourcing local ingredients and cooking homemade tasty dishes. After all that delicious food outdoor activity such as country walks, mindfulness and playing sports hits the spot.
Phil Ayling - Advocacy Worker
Phil (he/him) has been an online support volunteer for MindOut for two years. During which developed skills in managing people in crisis, signposting, emotional and listening support and connecting with people to feel less alone.
He is currently an LGBTQ Mental health Project Worker with lived mental health experience.
Phil has had previous experience working in various industries. Now living in the brighton area Phil has become a proud part of the LGBTQ community.
In his free time Phil enjoys films, football and reads graphic novels.
Gabi Parkham - Online Service Manager
Gabi (she/her) was so pleased to join MindOut in January 2022 as the Online Service Manager. She has been a longtime admirer of MindOut's work and was honoured to become part of the team and help develop the Online Support Service further.
Outside of MindOut, Gabi is a yoga teacher specialising in accessible and trauma informed yoga for LGBTQIA+ people with a particular interest in the perinatal period. She has 10 years of experience in project management within the charity sector, LGBTQIA+ education, and developing training and wellbeing programmes for volunteers. In 2018, Gabi co-founded Laviot (a social and supportive community for LGBT+ Jewish women and non-binary people) and she has worked with charities, synagogues, and Jewish communities to make their spaces more welcoming to LGBTQIA+ people.
Gabi loves to dismantle systems of power and takes a non-psychiatric approach to mental health. She wants to empower people to find the support that is right for them and centres consent, autonomy and equity in her work. One of Gabi's favourite parts of her role is working with our incredible volunteer teams and supporting them to develop their skills and knowledge of mental health. Gabi has more than doubled the reach of MindOut's Online Service so far and hopes to see the service grow even further over the coming years. The Online Service is MindOut's only service that is available internationally and Gabi feels incredibly lucky to be able to support the LGBTQ mental health of thousand of people all around the world.
Ed Westgarth - Counselling Service Manager
Ed (he/him) joined the MindOut team as the Counselling Service Manager in June 2023. His work involves managing and developing the Counselling Service at MindOut to provide an accessible mental health service for the LGBTQ+ community.
He is an experienced Integrative Counsellor. He has previously worked in other LGBTQ+ organisations, providing support in counselling, group work, and peer support. Ed is passionate about working in the community, as volunteering sparked his journey into studying and starting his career in counselling. He is excited to be able to work with MindOut and grow the service to help the community.
Alongside his role at MindOut, Ed also runs a private counselling practice, and continues to grow his knowledge through attending various workshops and lectures.
Peter Golder - Counselling Service Assistant
Peter (he/him) began the role of Counselling Service Assistant in January 2022, having previously volunteered as a counsellor for MindOut for 3 years. His work involves supporting the Counselling Services Manager and volunteer counsellors in the day to day administration of the Counselling service.
He is passionate about supporting people with their mental health, which has been influenced by his study and work over 15 years. This has included volunteering at the Samaritans, Terence Higgins Trust and now training to be a psychotherapist.
Besides his work at MindOut, Peter also supports the LGBTQ community in his private practice counselling work to people predominantly in Brighton and Hove and also across the UK. He also runs a small therapy group within the NHS to people living with dementia.
Outside of his work, Peter enjoys exercise, reading and walking on the South Downs or beside the sea.